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August 21 is Earth Overshoot Day

August 21 is Earth Overshoot Day

The very fact that the ’Earth Overshoot Day’ arrives one month earlier this year should be a wake up call for all of us. Earth Overshoot Day, a concept devised by the U.K based new economics foundation, marks the day when humanity begins using more ecological resources and services in a given year than Earth can regenerate in that year. This overuse adds to our global ecological debt – the slow depletion of resource stocks and accumulation of waste, primarily CO2 in the atmosphere. Globally, we are using 1.4 Earths’ worth of biocapacity every year. Some nations, however, use a lot less than this, and some use a lot more. Here is how many Earths we would need if everyone lived like a resident of the following countries (as per data from Global Footprint Network’s National Footprint Accounts, 2008 Edition). • United States 4.6 Earths • Canada 3.4 Earths • United Kingdom 2.6 Earths • Japan 2.4 Earths • Germany 2.0 Earths • Russia 1.8 Earths • Mexico 1.6 Earths • Costa Rica 1.1 Earths • India 0.4 Earths Carbon is the primary culprit of our ecological overspending. Humanity is emitting carbon dioxide faster than the planet can reabsorb it. Our carbon Footprint (the amount of land and sea it would take to absorb all the carbon we emit) has increased 1000% since 1961. Now over 50% of our Ecological Footprint comes from carbon emissions. We are now emitting much more carbon dioxide than the natural ecosystems of the planet can absorb; thus it is building up in the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Curbing carbon emissions is an essential strategy both for addressing climate change and reducing overshoot. If we can dramatically cut CO2 emissions without depleting other natural assets, we can rebalance our Earth budget. Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by determining the amount of biocapacity the planet produces in a year, and comparing that to humanity’s Ecological Footprint, the amount of biocapacity required to produce what we consume and absorb our waste. By calculating the ratio of globally available biocapacity to global Ecological Footprint and multiplying by 365, we find the number of days that the biosphere can supply resources to support our demand, and the number of days we operate in overshoot this year.


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